Society

Los Angeles Restaurant Owner Asks Customers To Tip His Kitchen Staff

| by Jared Keever

Most restaurant patrons are accustomed to tacking on an additional 15 to 20 percent to their bill in order to compensate their server. But a California restaurant owner has added an additional line to his credit card slips, suggesting that his customers also consider tipping those working in the kitchen. 

KTLA reports the chef-owner of a Silver Lake restaurant, Alimento, got the idea after he lost two kitchen employees to restaurants offering higher wages. 

“They couldn’t make it work on their end, and I couldn’t make it work on mine — this is a small restaurant,” Zach Pollack, explained to Los Angeles Magazine. “But at the same time, the servers are walking away with a lot of money. That’s great, but it put an issue in the spotlight that I’ve been aware of for a while.”

The added tips would go to the dishwashers, line cooks and prep cooks, Pollack explained. 

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Los Angeles Magazine reported the added line on the bill might be the first of its kind. 

Alimento customer Kiran Dhanireddy said she likes the idea because it allows the customer to share the tip with the part of the staff he or she thinks is most deserving.

“Sometimes the service doesn’t match the quality of the food, and sometimes the food doesn’t match the quality of the service,” Dhanireddy said.

That could be bad news to servers who stand to lose a portion of their income to the kitchen crew. Pollack said he doesn’t think that will happen though.

“I’m guessing people will still default to giving service 15 to 20 percent, but even if they give only a few bucks to the guys in back, it will make a huge difference,” he said. 

Pollack said if other small, but high-end, restaurants put the additional tip line on their bills too, the industry might stop losing top cooks to larger venues that aren’t always as focused on quality.

“I have this fantasy that more restaurants adopt this strategy,” he said. “If they do, then the logical conclusion would be that the restaurants serving the best food would garner the best tips for cooks, which means the best restaurants would be able to sustain better cooks, rather than losing them to hotels, country clubs, or lounge restaurants that are able to subsidize kitchen labor with extra income.”

Sources: KTLALos Angeles Magazine / Photo Credit: Lars Plougmann/Flickr, Consumatron.com/Flickr